|Human Head Cake Box Murder, by Weegee|
(Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Violent crime is down, yet we don't feel safer.Homicides dropped 15 percent in Chicago in 2017; shootings down too.
Why? Many reasons. First, our murder rate is still very high — 664 people killed in Chicago last year, more than in New York and Los Angeles combined.
Second, Chicago has become a punching bag, our crime problem as a presidential punchline.
Third, the media is more attuned to crime. Racism used to prompt the mainstream press to ignore entire neighborhoods, places it now tries to do a better job of noticing.
Fourth, crime is so awful it resonates, echoing in ways that have nothing to do with statistics. If there were one shooting in Chicago last year, that would be a lot if the person shot were you. Were there just one murder, the world would still become a tragic and dangerous place for hundreds of friends and loved ones of the victim.
Lastly, not only do we have this last year's crimes to ruffle our sense of security, but crimes from the past have a way of wandering back to disturb us anew.
"They're letting Kokoraleis out," I said grimly to my wife over the breakfast table.
"Who?" she replied. Because she never worked at a newspaper. Never, as I have, filled in for the beat reporter at the Cook County Criminal Court, 26th and California. Never sat in the grubby press room, at a little metal desk. Never idly pulled open a drawer and noticed a manila folder labeled "Kokoraleis." Never flipped the folder open and began to read.
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